Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Men's Room

There are only a few places on Earth like a public men’s room. Its walls enshrine all manner of gastrointestinal pyrotechnics and unnecessary conversation. In fact, I believe that a men’s restroom is so far removed from the rest of societal norms that it deserves its own governing set of rules. I have taken the artistic liberty of penning such a list and it appears below.
Rule I- No Bodily Function is rude in a Men’s Room.
There is nothing quite like the sanctuary of a men’s restroom.  The wanton expulsion of gases and bodily fluids creates a unique symphony of digestive dissonance.  Many of these sounds, if emitted in other settings, would result in the source being socially ostracized. I think it is best that I illustrate this with two scenarios:
Scenario 1 - Two men are standing in the hall having a conversation. Man A is giving a recap of last night’s football game (or Dancing with the Stars episode depending on your employer) when Man B unexpectedly breaks wind. As the sound reverberates down the hall, Man A glares at Man B and says, “Dude. Not Cool.” Man B hangs his head in shame and is assigned the nickname “Skid Mark” by his fellow co-workers. There is much sadness.
Scenario 2- The same two men are in the men’s room off the same hallway as before. Man A is again giving his recap of the previous night’s events when Man B unleashes his flatulence. The two momentarily lock eyes until Man A begins laughing and says, “Dude. Nice one!” Man B shares in this jubilation and is commended by his coworkers for his colonic prowess. There is much rejoicing.
 Although the elements of both scenarios are identical, the physical location powerfully alters the light in which those elements are viewed. Man B can easily be transformed from a freak to a folk hero simply by practicing his craft inside the confines of a bathroom.  I have literally been walking with someone through the hall having a conversation, and as soon as we enter the restroom they immediately produce a sound akin to a small tire exploding. Had they released said pant-load even one foot outside the restroom, it would have been socially unseemly.

Rule II – There is no talking during number 2
While talking is generally permitted and even encouraged inside of the restroom itself, once any party enters the sacred stall area they are no longer available for verbal interaction of any kind. When a stall patron is making a deposit, it is imperative that every aspect of their mental facilities is at their full disposal. Failure to adhere to this code can lead to serious conditions such as “premature clenching” and “involuntary grunt disorder.”
I have observed this violation of protocol firsthand while at my place of employment. The perpetrator was one of the most feared creatures in a number 2 scenario: a shoe watcher. Shoe watchers have the uncanny ability to identify a stall dweller based solely on their footwear and use this superpower to lure them into unwanted conversations. This particular S.W. would enter the men’s room and say things like, “Hey Brian, how’s it going?” or “Brian, when you finish up I need to ask you something.” It got to the point that I would lift my feet up every time the restroom door opened so as not to compromise my identity. I even toyed with the idea of purchasing a slip-on shoe cover (like the type designed to go over a cast) to throw him off the trail.
Rule III – Respect the Urinal
The urinal area is essential governed by the same ideals as an angled parking space; stay between the lines, stare straight ahead, and it is always illegal to back in. It has also become apparent to me that there is a large percentage of the male population that is unable to utilize a urinal without first spitting into it. Demographically speaking this tends to be more widespread amongst senior citizens, but the younger generation is not immune. While the ritual itself is within tolerable boundaries of men’s room etiquette, I find it puzzling nonetheless.
I would also like to stress the importance of proper timing in regards to trouser zippers. Many gentlemen disengage their pant fasteners long before they arrive at the urinal which unnecessarily increases the risk of an “early deployment” scenario. If your fly is so complicated that you must begin extrication proceedings prior to arrival, perhaps you should reconsider your choice in pants.
Rule IV – Wash Your Hands
Although there are exceptions to this (hostage situations, Arkansas rest areas after dark) there is generally no excuse for ignoring proper hygiene. It takes all of 25 seconds to moisten your hands with water, apply some soap, and adequately dry them. I may be forced to shake hands with you later, and I do not want the remnants of “Nacho Night” to be a part of that transaction. I have heard of a few people that refuse to participate in this sanitation ritual because they feel that it has been forced upon them by “society” and they feel their adherence to it promotes fear mongering.
As infuriating as conscientious abstention can be, fake hand washing is even worse. I have personally observed guys turn on the sink without actually placing their hands under the water. I can only assume that this is to present the idea of sanitation without any of the follow-through. An obvious parallel would be indiscriminately flushing toilets without actually using them.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Gift Certificate

If you have been reading this blog for any length of time, you are probably aware that I posses a debilitating fear of spas and massages stemming from my very first experience that can be found here:
So when I set out a few days ago to purchase a gift certificate for my wife’s birthday, I was already apprehensive about stepping through the front door. As I feared, it was awkward…..
I arrived at the establishment around 2:00 that afternoon and as I walked in the front door I was immediately struck by the total lack of any ambient noise. Aside from an almost subliminally quiet piano track, the only auditory stimulus was the rhythmic crinkling of aluminum foil as a woman in the corner was having coloring maintenance done. I sheepishly approached the front counter where I attempted to engage the “relaxation hostess” in conversation. This was made somewhat difficult because she was positioned behind a computer monitor so large it looked like it had been stolen from the wall of a sports bar.
I explained that I needed a gift certificate and she advised me that she would be with me in just a moment. As she fielded a phone call, I glanced around the room and realized that although there were about a half-dozen patrons and employees, no one was saying a word. Most of the women in the chairs were staring glassy-eyed at a muted television above the beautification area as their chosen hairstylist silently orbited their scalps.
The lone customer in the lobby had looked up from her magazine and was staring at me as if she expected me to either produce a handgun and demand cash or issue her a pamphlet on where she would spend eternity and for the record I suspect she would have viewed either act in equally bad taste. As the hostess fielded a second phone call, I could feel myself being unnerved by the eerie silence and I began to imagine that one of the back rooms was soundproofed and probably used for live organ transplants.
Finally, the receptionist hung up the phone and just as I began to re-approach the counter, two women emerged from the spa area in the back. After only a few seconds of their dialogue I immediately regretted my disdain for the eerie silence that had preceded it. The employee was leading the woman to the register to settle the tab and their conversation was progressing something like this:
Customer:”My face feels so fresh and clean.”
Employee:  “You look radiant!”
Customer: “That olestra-lemonade oil peel really did the trick.”
Employee: “You look stunning, absolutely stunning!”
Customer: “I certainly feel relaxed.”
Employee: “You look wonderful!”

This exchange continued to escalate until the employee had safely secured her tip and the customer was safely out the door. This entire ordeal only served to prolong my agony as they needed to utilize the very cash register that was required to issue my gift certificate.
At long last it was my turn and we began the arduous process of issuing a gift certificate. At her request, I provided my full name, address, and telephone number along with the full name of the certificate’s recipient. She walked me through the packages they offered (all with relaxation inducing names like “Day at the Beach” and “Island Getaway”) and I made my selection.
Then, just as I thought I was in the clear, she looked at me and said, “You just wanted this to say ‘From Jeremy’ right?” I was not sure whether this lady was just oblivious to our entire conversation or my wife had a secret lover named Jeremy, either way I was determined to get my gift certificate and get the hell out of there before someone started eyeing one of my kidneys. I replied that I would feel more comfortable if the gift certificate had my name on it and that Jeremy could pay for his own “Day at the Beach.” Although immediately puzzled, she recovered and admitted that she forgot my name was Brian.
Finally, she handed me the gift certificate and I made it safely back to my car. I think that transaction was the least relaxed I had been all week.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Wasps: A Love Story

Ever since I was young, I have had a debilitating fear of wasps. Although I am not dangerously allergic, I did get stung quite a bit growing up. This was mostly due to my overwhelming stupidity more than any type of parental neglect. My combination of curiosity and embarrassingly slow reflexes would inevitably lead to me walking inside the house adorned by swollen welts. I always took some solace in the fact that they would die not long after stinging me, or so I thought at the time, I have since realized that many species can continue stinging multiple times.
I would like to report that as an adult I have relinquished such a silly phobia and no longer find myself sweating when I hear the familiar buzz of a wasp. However, that is not the case at all. In fact, a few weeks ago my wife and I were walking outside when a red wasp flew into our path and I immediately shrieked like an eight year-old girl and hid behind my spouse. She dramatically rolled her eyes and made some comment about “chivalry being dead.” I explained to her that I would be more than willing to protect her from falling debris or a meth tweaker with a lead pipe, but as far as wasps were concerned I had had no trepidation using her as a human shield to save my own pasty skin. Some day she will leave me for a real man, but I think that springing for the Netflix subscription bought me some time……
After discussing my views with a coworker, we observed how stinging insects have an uncanny ability to suppress any use of logic. For example:
I am driving down the road on a pleasant spring day when a meandering yellow jacket enters my car through the passenger-side window. The brightly colored insect begins a futile attempt to exit the car by flying toward the windshield, which incidentally brings him close to my face. Sensing danger, I release one hand from the wheel and begin to swat at the bug while bobbing my head wildly in order to avoid a retaliatory sting. This only angers the yellow jacket, causing him to dive bomb my head as I continue down the street at 65MPH. I am now gyrating my entire upper body in an attempt to confuse the wasp, which causes me to drift wildly in and out of my lane. After several minutes of this voluntary road-seizure, the bug finds his way out of the window.
The fascinating thing about this scenario, other than how entertaining it must be for those traveling behind you, is the fact that I am willing to lose control of a two ton automobile traveling 65 miles per hour in order to avoid a sting from a wasp. I am literally risking higher insurance premiums, bodily harm, and possible death just to avoid a minor welt that I will shameless use to evoke sympathy from my wife later on. Logically, I understand that the greatest threat to my long term survival is remaining in control of my car but when faced with this flying insect the size of Jolly Rancher, I drop my biscuits.
And it isn’t just driving. I have almost thrown myself from a ladder while cleaning my gutters just because I thought I heard a faint buzzing sound. I realize that wasps, like all insects, have an integral role in the food chain and are often used to control other pests, but I will not hesitate to marinate one in RAID Hornet Killer. In fact, if they sold a formula that caused the wasp to spontaneously burst into flames mid-flight I would buy one for each hand, film the results, and then play that video for the relatives of the wasp so that they could spread the word.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

How Not To Kill Your Wife

By just about any standard, Juan-Carlos Cruz is a success story. After landing a job cooking for celebrities at the swanky Hotel Bel Air, he gained notoriety by losing 43 pounds while participating in a televised program on The Discovery Health Channel. This led to several hosting gigs on The Food Network including the series Calorie Commando and Take It Off where he focused on sustaining weight loss through lower calorie intake. He would later release an unnecessarily over-titled eating guide called "The Juan-Carlos Cruz Calorie Countdown Cookbook: A 5-Week Eating Strategy for Sustainable Weight Loss."
All seemed to be going well for Juan, but apparently there was trouble brewing at the homestead between he and his beloved wife Jennifer. Perhaps it was his newfound culinary notoriety that came between them or maybe she had become emotionally distant, but whatever the reason Juan felt the chasm that had appeared between them had only one clear solution: outsourced homicide.
While Juan had tasted success over the past decade, his contract with the Food Network had not been renewed and he found himself unable to allocate the financial resources he would need to hire a reputable hit-man. Never one to give up easily, Juan took a stroll down the Third Street Prominade in Santa Monica, California to locate a more “budget conscious” criminal. After walking for a few hours, Cruz approached a homeless man known as “Little Dave” and offered him compensation in exchange for making sure his wife was introduced to the "big sleep."
This being his first entrepreneurial murder, “Little Dave” felt that it would be prudent to involve his associate “Big Dave” in order to plan the slaying. Once Cruz agreed to make it a duo, “Big Dave” felt that the operation would greatly benefit from the expertise of another homeless man and soon the three men were plotting their next move.
After several brainstorming sessions, “Big Dave” is picked up by the Santa Monica police on a loitering charge. Apparently desperate to beat the loitering rap, “Big Dave” decides to sing like a canary and reveals that his services have been retained by a celebrity chef to kill his wife. In the police interview, “Big Dave,” describes the chef as being meticulous but “very cheap.”
Taking a cue from “Big Dave,” the Santa Monica police launched an undercover investigation of the Calorie Commando and last Thursday he was arrested for solicitation of murder. As of this writing the trial date has not been set.
What Went Wrong
1.       Has divorce become so stigmatized that it is considered more social acceptable just to have your spouse bumped off? What happened to trial separation? All I am saying is just try an annulment, see how it feels, then explore other options…

2.       I think the only thing more insulting than finding out your husband wants you dead is realizing that he was not willing to pay full retail price for it. I mean how financially stingy does your offer have to be for a man sleeping on a park bench to call you “cheap?” Did Cruz suggest 2 Cherry Pepsi’s and copy of the Grease 2 soundtrack as compensation?

3.       Why would anyone assume that a chronically homeless man who identifies himself as “Little Dave” possessed the devious cunning and moral depravity necessary to successfully commit homicide while avoiding detection? Perhaps Mr. Cruz was under the impression that all of California’s homeless receive special vocational training in the area of assassination. Also, just because someone is poor does not mean they have no opposition to homicide.

4.       I also have to wonder what the punishment is for loitering in Santa Monica is if “Big Dave” felt pressured to cop to a 1st degree murder plot to get himself off the hook. Was it like an episode of Law & Order where Sam Waterston’s character leans toward “Big Dave” and his attorney and says, “You’re gonna burn for this loitering rap Davie unless you can give me something I can use!”
For his part, Juan has pleaded not guilty to all charges and his lawyer has indicated that it was all a misunderstanding. Hopefully they are cooking up something good….

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Why Are Drug Reps Hot?

Photo:  First Horizon Pharmaceuticals Drug Rep Cristin Duren competing for Miss America

There is no such thing as a free lunch or an ugly drug rep. I was reminded of this several weeks ago as I Ashley and I sat in a waiting room at a local clinic. Most patients were half-heartedly eyeing archaic issues of Home & Garden or glancing at the Sanford and Sons reruns on TVLand. There was, however, a group that did not fit this mold. I counted three of them (two men and one woman) and heaven help me I couldn’t spot a pimple or facial scar between them. The men were dressed in immaculate suits which served to compliment with their chiseled jaw lines and olive-skinned complexions. The lone woman was a tall blond dressed in a rather strategic dress and heels. All were armed with “business cases” and the knowledge that they were the only ones actually getting paid to sit in the waiting room.
After the appointment, I began asking friends if they had ever spotted a physically unattractive drug rep of either gender. I don’t mean Quasimodo or Larry Bird unattractive, just someone your spouse wouldn’t leave you for immediately. When we all drew a blank, I began wondering if being hot was a pre-requisite for a pharmaceutical sales technician or I was just reading too much into it. Surely it was just a coincidence that all the pharmaceutical sales associates I had ever encountered seemed to have won some sort of genetic lottery. According to a 2005 article by the New York Times, widespread drug rep hotness is no coincidence.
The article highlighted Cassie Napier, a 26 year old drug rep for TAP Pharmaceutical Products whose previous claim to fame was a star cheerleader on the University of Kentucky cheerleading squad. This was no accident as Ms. Napier, like 24 other members of Kentucky’s squad, were specifically recruited by drug companies. A school staff member employed within the cheerleading program explained that he frequently gets call from pharmaceutical company recruiters who want the names of recently graduated cheerleaders. “They don’t ask what the major is,” he admitted.
Cassie’s story is not unique; First Horizon Pharmaceuticals employs Cristin Duren, who was given a special leave of absence to compete in the Miss America pageant. A spokesperson for the Washington Redskins admitted that several members of their cheerleading squad were currently employed as drug reps; some other notable pharmaceutical beauties include Mia Heaston (a former Miss Illinois), Cameron Haven (a model for Playboy), and Diana Chiafair (professional swimsuit model and Miss FHM 2007.) The trend has become so blatant that entire businesses have been formed for the singular purpose of matching cheerleaders with pharmaceutical companies looking for “pharma babes.”
One of the most successful examples of this is Spirited Sales Leaders, a Memphis-based corporation founded in 2003 that charges a $2,500 fee once you successfully land a pharmaceutical sales job. Owner Gregory C. Webb got the idea for the business after observing “several hundred” former cheerleaders being hired as drug reps. Their site even displays a success wall that lists former clients who have been matched with a pharmaceutical company.
How is this possible you ask? Isn’t this a form of discrimination? The answer tends to be a bit more complicated as there are currently no laws that prohibit hiring attractive candidates. As long the company does not refuse to hire based on religion, race, or gender; they are not violating any Federal statutes. In other words, a sign outside of Pfizer might read:
We are an equal opportunity employer (as long as you are smokin’)
So what do the drug companies say about selecting the more esthetically pleasing populace to represent their wares? Pharmaceutical giant Bristol-Myers Squibb, in response to the New York Times article, claims that industry hiring practices are based on “personality” and not looks. They claim that the inordinate number of cheerleaders in their ranks is due to their tendency to be “extroverts, good conversationalists, and pleasant to talk to.” And men read Playboy for the hard hitting journalism….
Former Prozac rep Shahram Ahari, testified before a senate committee that the drug companies may be interested in cheerleaders and ex-models for more than their “personalities.” He revealed that while working for pharmaceutical giant Eli Lily, new employees were trained in the art of fostering “quid pro quo” relationships and exploiting sexual tension with doctors. On the first day of “sales class” Ahari learned that he was the only one in the room (including 21 other trainees and 2 instructors) that had received any college-level science education.
How can they afford to pay $60,000 dollars to former cheerleaders with no science background? The answer is simple; they are worth every penny in the revenue that they generate. In 2007, AstraZeneca fired a sales executive Mike Zubillaga after his interview in an internal company newsletter went public. In the interview, Mr. Zubillaga offered the following advice to his sales reps when they visited a doctor:
“There is a big bucket of money sitting in every office. Every time you go in, you reach your hand in the bucket and grab a handful. The more times you are in, the more money goes in your pocket. Every time you make a call, you are looking to make more money.”
The remarks became especially infuriating when it was revealed that Zubillaga and his sales staff dealt exclusively with cancer medication. Once an employee posted the interview on the Internet, AstraZeneca quickly fired the executive because his viewpoint “violates a core value of serving patients.” The company did not explain why such offensive sales advice would be published and distributed to their employees in the first place as part of the official company newsletter.
This mindset is not unique to AstraZeneca, former Parke-Davis pharmaceutical rep David Franklin sued his former employer for forcing him to market drugs off-label (other than their approved uses) and making false claims. He cited a senior sales executive at the company who told him:
"I want you out there every day selling Neurotonin. Neurotonin is more profitable than Accupril, so we need to focus on Neurotonin. Pain management, now that's money…. I don't want to see a single patient coming off Neurotonin before they've been up to at least 4,800 milligrams a day. I don't want to hear that safety crap, either."
 The problem is that Neurotonin was only approved for use in seizure patients at the time but the sales staff was pushing doctors to prescribe it for everything from migraines to bi-polar disorder. In 2004, the company was ordered to pay $430 million in fines for their marketing practices of the drug, which many felt was an ineffective slap on the wrist considering the company’s proceeds from the medication exceeded $3 billion.
How do such practices go unregulated? Why is the Neurotonin case the exception rather than the rule? Well, when you make a lot of money you can afford to spend a lot of money. In a recent report from the Center for Responsive Politics, it was revealed that pharmaceutical companies spent over $900 million on government lobbying between 1998 and 2005. This was more than any other industry in the same time period, and almost 90 million of that went directly to federal candidates and committee members and nearly three-fourths of the cash went to Republican candidates.
That is not to say Republicans are the only ones taking incentives, in the 2004 presidential race the pharmaceutical companies donated significant amounts to both Bush and Kerry’s campaigns and I would imagine that any congressional donations tend to lean toward the current majority.  In an interview with The Washington Post, Republican Senator Charles Grassley admitted, "You can hardly swing a cat by the tail in Washington without hitting a pharmaceutical lobbyist.” Although the comment was meant in jest, it reveals a simple truth: there are currently 2 drug lobbyists for every member of Congress.
So is there any hope for oversight and responsible prescription marketing practices? In 2001 the American Medical Association launched a campaign to educate doctors about the ethical perils of pharmaceutical gifts. The program was funded by pharmaceutical companies.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Milkshake Quest

It has become a running joke between my wife and I, that anytime I wish to purchase a milkshake at a McDonald’s restaurant, the magical device that dispenses said beverage is broken. Apparently the mass produced apparatus that creates McDonald’s treats is so complex that the slightest deviation in its mechanism causes catastrophic dessert failure. In my experience, only the Hubble telescope requires more upkeep to perform its intended function. When they speak of it being “down for maintenance” the staff uses such a serious tone that you would think the night shift was back there dismantling the core of a nuclear submarine.
So last Saturday night when we decided to grab an order of McNuggets, I playfully ordered a small chocolate milkshake. I fully expected the overly-rehearsed “Sorry sir, but the ice cream machine is out of order,” so you can imagine my surprise when the disembodied voice simply replied “Will that be all?” My wife and I exchanged curious glances as the speaker casually announced our total and told us to proceed to the first window.
“It’s a miracle,” Ashley said “Your streak is finally broken!” I was still guarded though, as I fully expected the girl at the first window to inform me that they had forgotten to tell us that the ice cream machine was broken after all.  However, our visit to the initial window was uneventful and we were instructed to proceed to the next window where our culinary delights would be dispensed.
Suddenly, despite my best efforts to suppress it, I began to succumb to the hope that this would indeed be my night, the night that I had finally bested the McDonald’s ice cream machine. Rolling to a stop next to the final window, the employee quickly handed us the paper bag that undoubtedly contained the McNuggets and French fries. Then, just as she turned to acquire what I could only assume was my beloved McShake, a man appeared wearing a button-up shirt and a headset. Through past experience I knew that only one person was issued such dapper attire: the manager.
I could feel fear rising in my throat as he and the employee began conversing just out of earshot. Ashley and I strained to hear what they were saying, but just as I thought we were making headway the employee reached back with her free hand and slid the window closed. Now we had been reduced to decoding the manger’s pantomimes in an attempt to understand this puzzling turn of events. Not ready to give up hope, I convinced myself that the manager simply wanted to make sure that the employee understood what a big moment this was for me. Perhaps the staff was arranging some sort of acapella tribute to my past struggles. I debated on whether or not to get my parents on speakerphone…..
After almost two full minutes of watching the pair through the glass, the manager slid open the window and calmly explained that the ice cream machine had broken immediately after I placed my order. He quickly elaborated that an employee had “pressed the wrong button” thus rendering the entire device inoperable for the remainder of the evening. I was so full of questions that I was momentarily speechless. What button did the employee push? Furthermore, why would you equip any device with a button that immediately prevents it from doing the only thing it was created for? Am I the victim of some sort of cosmic joke?
The manager instructed us to move up the front rail and wait so that he could issue a refund for the milkshake and bring it to us. This was just great. Not only will I be denied my chocolate shake, now we are being put in drive-thru time-out, all because Jim-Bob got confused and pressed the “Initiate Total Dairy Failure” button on the machine. I swore that if I saw the car behind me get a milkshake I was going to set the indoor playland on fire before we squealed away.
After several minutes the manager emerged from the side exit and handed me my $3 back. He was polite and apologetic, but I didn’t put much effort into hiding my frustration. So once again I left a McDonald’s drive thru with nothing but a super-sized order of disappointment.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Terrible Song Lyrics Part 2

Ke$ha – Tik Tok
Ain't got a care in world, but got plenty of beer
Ain't got no money in my pocket, but I'm already here
And now, the dudes are lining up cause they hear we got swagger
But we kick em to the curb unless they look like Mick Jagger

I'm talking about everybody getting crunk, crunk
Boys tryin' to touch my junk, junk
Gonna smack him if he getting too drunk, drunk
Anytime an artist replaces a consonant in their name with the $ symbol the listener can be assured of a musical and lyrical treat, and Ke$ha does not disappoint. Tik Tok is the leadoff single from her 2010 release Animal which contains such musical milestones as “Party at a Rich Dude's House” and "Blah Blah Blah.” In Tik Tok, Ke$ha expresses both her fondness of alcohol and lack of disposable income, (events that are often mutually inclusive) while revealing that her “swagger” encourages men to congregate around her current location.
Even more telling is that the party’s screening process is based on Mick Jagger’s physical characteristics which, at age 67, could be described as emaciated geriatric post-heroin sheik. The other possibility is she couldn’t locate another word that rhymed with swagger. Either way, the chorus reminds us that despite the good times to be had one must remain vigilant and often employ physical violence to protect one’s “junk.” I couldn’t agree more…

Brad Paisley – Ticks
Every time you take a sip
In this smoky atmosphere
You press that bottle to your lips
And I wish I was your beer
In the small there of your back
Your jeans are playing peekaboo
I'd like to see the other half of your butterfly tattoo.

Hey that gives me an idea
Let's get out of this bar
Drive out into the country
And find a place to park.

'Cause I'd like to see you out in the moonlight
I'd like to kiss you way back in the sticks
I'd like to walk you through a field of wildflowers
And I'd like to check you for ticks.
“Ticks” was the leadoff single for Brad Paisley’s fifth studio effort aptly titled Fifth Gear. The tune follows the adventures of a young man seeking the affections of an unnamed barfly. Enamored by the woman’s tattoo and rather mobile pant-line, he decides that his advances would be more warmly accepted in isolation. Once their nature walk is completed, he coyly plans to check her for “forest leeches.”
While I never advocate the use of the word “peekaboo” in a song, I will admit that exploiting a date’s fear of Lyme disease as an excuse for uninvited physical contact is deviously brilliant. Whether or not Paisley was inspired by the 1993 horror film of the same name remains to be seen, but as a parasitic-themed song about first dates, it’s in a class all by itself.
Nick Lachey – Shut Up
When we touch, when we kiss,
When we shut up
Don't say anything at all

You throw a glass straight at my head
Swear up and down you want me dead
I guess love is in the air tonight
You bite my neck, I pull your hair
Next thing we know, no underwear
Now why can't we just
Turn out the light, forget how to fight
Cuz we got tonight
“Shut Up” was the first single off Lachey’s debut solo album entitled, well, Soul-O. If you thought the future ex-Mr. Jessica Simpson’s clever use of wordplay ended with the title, you are in for a real treat once you get to this cut.  In it, he narrates a scenario that is likely to spawn a domestic assault charge, but for now he is just focused on “tonight.” Apparently Mr. Lachey considers the threat of homicide an aphrodisiac, and before you know it the couple finds themselves sans undergarments.
Undoubtedly Nick wished to tap into the smoldering sensuality that defined musical icons like Barry White and Sade, but from the performance I am not even convinced that he likes this song. The public was unconvinced as well since the album peaked at #51 on the charts and sold less than 175,000 copies. To place that in the proper perspective, when fellow TV star Bruce Willis dropped his first album in 1987 he made it all the way to #14. Shut up indeed.

Black Eyed Peas – Latin Girls
I like Latin them Latin women I do
And they love me cause I'm that man
With cocoa nuts and chocolate skin
I'm that mocha masculine
Feminines that are Latin call ya friends
And call your cousins cause I know you got dozens of them
Yo quiero and I'm sincero
Cuban girls, Cuban girls, I like em'
Puerto Rican girls, Puerto Rican girls, yo quiero
Mexican girls, Mexican girls, yo quiero
Spanish girls, Spanish girls, I like em'
Girls, Girls, Latin girls
Latin girls, Latin girls
Latin girls, What's happenin' girls?
I imagine that this song is more effective at repelling Latin women than the U.S. Border Patrol, and does so at a fraction of the cost. Not only is the Latino stereotyping offensive, such as,  gold digging, inordinately large families, and use of the phrase “You a bronze skin momma,” but they manage to insert just enough broken Spanish to make the listener feel like they are at a rave sponsored by Rosetta Stone.
And while I am on the subject of offensive, “cocoa nuts” sounds like a children’s breakfast cereal created by a demented urologist and “mocha masculine” sounds like a Starbucks drink served at bachelorette parties. The apex of this monstrosity has to be the line “Yo quiero and I’m sincero.” I am not expecting Faust, but is a complete sentence too much to ask for?

Joey McIntyre – National Anthem of Love
This is the national anthem of love
Stepped into the car five words and you’re wrong
She wants to go home
Can't remember a word you said all you know is
you're dead
If you don't straighten things out
And you know you're dead if you don't
So baby if you wanna get some
This is the superbowl of love
You wanna play but it's just too rough and you
wanna go home
Just remember it's only a game
After the dissolution of New Kids on the Block (NKOTB on tha’ streetz) in 1995, the group’s youngest member released a string of solo albums. His 2001 release, entitled Meet Joe Mac, contained the epic ballad “National Anthem of Love.” The song follows what we assume to be a young couple on a date when the gentleman protagonist suddenly says something so hurtful and offensive that his companion immediately demands that she be taken home. Like all great storytellers, Mr. McIntyre leaves those “five words” up to our imagination. Let’s speculate, shall we?

·         Blood doesn’t wash out easily.
·         Where is your jewelry kept?
·         I lost my Nader bumpersticker.
·         Yo quiero and I'm sincero.
·         Prison taught me so much.
·         Please join a Methodist committee.
·         Like my Tiger Woods cologne?
·         I remember you being hotter.
·         Are your blinds always closed?
·         Ever had a McRib combo?
·         Gonorrhea just keeps coming back.
·         I own Joey McIntyre’s album.